When you ask Mark Genereux what dishes he would cook for a gourmet meal, he rattles off a menu the way most of us recite the alphabet. After 30 years in the restaurant business, Genereux, assistant executive chef at Foxwoods Resort Casino, makes it all sound so easy.
Consider the dishes he put together last weekend at the Taste of Mystic for Cedars Steak House, the Foxwoods restaurant that walked away with the festival’s “Most Popular” and “People’s Choice” awards:
■ Cedars lobster bisque with sliced lobster claw with batonnets, chives, and creme fraiche,
■ Beef tenderloin with bacon gorgonzola cream, skewered with shrimp sautéed in garlic butter and drizzled with a cranberry balsamic glaze with a julienne of sundried tomato and frisee,
■ Creme brulee tartlets, torched on site and topped with whipped cream and strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.
Genereux, 55, dreamed up even more mouth-watering meals when I asked him what he would have served to Jesus at the Last Supper and what he would eat for his own last meal.
Born in Baltic, Genereux is a 1981 graduate of Johnson & Wales University and lives in Canterbury. Before arriving at Foxwoods in 1997, he worked as a chef at Walt Disney World, the Woodstock Inn & Resort in Vermont, the old Seamen’s Inne in Mystic, and at his own catering company.
At the casino, he has served as banquet chef, executive sous chef, and the restaurant chef at Cedars. An avid outdoorsman, Genereux has a taste for fish and game, as you’ll see in his descriptions below of what he enjoys cooking at home.
In this month’s chef profile, we salute Mark Genereux of Foxwoods Resort Casino.
Q: What’s your best dish at Cedars?
A: I’m a veal guy, so I’d probably pick the Veal Maryland, which is a grilled veal chop with lump crab, asparagus, and Bernaise. It’s kind of a take-off on Oscar, but we call it Maryland because we do the lump crab. …Either that one or the (baked Atlantic) cod with a lobster Madeira cream sauce with sautéed scallops, shrimp, and lobster. …It’s hard to choose. Cedars is definitely one of our strongest restaurants at Foxwoods.
NOTE: Neither dish comes cheap—the veal chops costs $46, the cod will run you $28.
What do you like to cook at home?
I really like fishing and hunting, and I really enjoy cooking a lot of fish and game—pheasant, venison, duck, striped bass, trout.
If you were invited to compete on “Iron Chef” and the theme ingredient was duck, what dishes would you prepare?
Grilled duck breast with blood orange and a brandy glaze with toasted macadamia nuts, garnished with rosemary.
What chefs inspire you?
I’ve tried to pick my jobs based on the chefs so I could learn from them. I had a very good chef at the Woodstock Inn, and I learned a lot from him, and I learned a lot from numerous chefs at Walt Disney World.
What’s your favorite restaurant besides Cedars or any of the others at Foxwoods?
As much as I work, and I like to cook at home, it’s really hard to say. I just don’t get out much. I’m a cook-at-home-for-my-family kind of guy. …I do enjoy eating on cruise ships when we go on cruises.
What is your fondest food memory?
On the holidays with my family, food is definitely a focal point. I really enjoy cooking for my family. It’s the food, it’s that meal, that get-together with family and friends that’s probably the most important part of any holiday. My mom was a good cook, and my grandmothers were good cooks, but this generation now, it seems like it’s the guys that are the cooks.
If you had catered the Last Supper, what would you have cooked for Jesus and his disciples?
I’d serve Jesus an herb-and-parmesan-encrusted rack of veal with grilled sweet corn, and gorgonzola-and-roasted-pepper mashed potatoes.
If you were headed to the electric chair tomorrow, what would you eat for your last supper?
I do a lot of fishing and hunting, and I really like game, so I’d eat a marinated leg of venison with a merlot demi-glace and wild mushrooms, with some oven-roasted yams with bacon, onion, and a cinnamon-and-brown-sugar glaze, with asparagus and a Bernaise. And a Sam Adams Octoberfest.
If you weren’t in the restaurant business, what would you be doing for a living?
I’d be Charlie Moore (“The Mad Fisherman” on NESN, the Red Sox network). What better job can you get than that? I’d have to be that or I’d have to be a beer-taster for Sam Adams.
What is your favorite junk food?
I like chicken wings. I’m not a big fast-food eater, but I like Italian sandwiches and sausage and peppers too.
Can you tell us some statistics or interesting facts about Cedars, maybe how many steaks they serve on a busy weekend?
Like anybody else, we’re feeling the economy. When I was the restaurant chef at Cedars, we were running close to 1,000 covers (customers) on a week and up to 1,500 on a weekend depending on the shows or what was going on in the casino. But right now we might do 600 to 800 during the week, maybe 1,000 to 1,200 on a weekend, sometimes 1,400 if we have the right act going on in the casino. …It’s (down) a big chunk.
What cooking tips can you offer to those of us who don’t know an oven mitt from a catcher’s mitt?
Learn the basic techniques—sautéeing, making sauces, and techniques like that. Once you learn the basic techniques, then you apply the ingredients. Basically every sauté dish is prepared pretty close to the same way. It’s an actual formula you follow, but you just change the ingredients in the dish. A lot of cooking is all a system or a series of techniques, and once you learn the system, once you learn how to sauté or grill or whatever, you can sauté or grill basically anything. And don’t be afraid to experiment.
What lessons about life can we learn from steak?
Don’t overdo it! …There are three levels of doneness with a steak—rare, medium rare, and overcooked.
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